Newsletters & Information > Montford Point gets Oscar-winning actor
Montford Point gets Oscar-winning actor

Apr 12, 2006

Montford Point gets Oscar-winning actor
April 12,2006
DANIEL MCNAMARA
DAILY NEWS STAFF
When Rubenn “Pappy” Hines joined the Marine Corps in 1943,
two stamps were placed next to his name in the registry.

One said “colored.” The other said “for the duration of the
war only.”

Obviously, the man stamping the registry — and even the
Corps itself — had not been there when Hines saw the Marine
Corps recruiting poster only a year earlier.

“It looked like the guy was pointing straight at me,” Hines
said.

On Tuesday, Hines, 81, was one of 12 Montford Point Marines
and a host of family members and admirers who attended a
reception at what is now known as Camp Johnson to celebrate
the a documentary chronicling their fight to fight for the
Corps. They were joined by Academy Award-winning actor
Louis Gossett Jr., who narrated the documentary and offered
a few remarks at the reception.

“I know you’re strong and it’s on your shoulders that I
stand,” said the actor, who earned an Oscar playing a drill
instructor in the 1982 film, “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

Sometime this fall, the yet-to-be-titled film will tell a
story that many who were at the Montford Point Museum
Tuesday night believe is long overdue.

Between 1942 and 1949, 19,000 black recruits attended basic
training at Montford Point with the idea that the Marine
Corps would revert to an all-white force as soon as World
War II ended.

Since 2001, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
professor emeritus Melton McLaurin has worked with the
University of South Carolina and the Montford Point Marines
to show the world why that didn’t happen.

“They had to fight just to get into the Marine Corps,” said
museum director Finney Greggs. “It’s not something people
should be proud of, but it’s something they should
embrace.”

After spending four years securing financial support for
the project, McLaurin began interviewing the remaining
Montford Point Marines last year.

McLaurin plans to preview the film this July during the
Montford Point convention this July. After that the
filmmaker hopes to air the hour-long documentary on PBS.

Although he interviewed 61 subjects, McLaurin says that
several common threads emerged, including the esprit de
corps, the cruelty of battle, prejudice inside and outside
the Corps, and the elation of acceptance that many black
Marines first experienced in Korea and Vietnam.

Following a few, brief presentations by Greggs,
Jacksonville Mayor Jan Bean Slagle and Montford Point
Marine Association president Nathaniel James, McLaurin
introduced Gossett, calling him “probably the most famous
non-Marine gunnery sergeant.”

Among a hail of “oohrahs”, Gossett spoke of the importance
of the Montford Point Marines’ tale and the pride he felt
in telling it.

McLaurin said it wasn’t that difficult getting an Academy
Award winner to participate in the film.

“It was really rather simple,” McLaughlin said. “We called
and asked.

“From the beginning he was interested in the project
because of the men.”

 JAMES E STEWART JR PRESIDENT

JOHN TILLMAN VICE PRESIDENT

Historical advisor Byron Stewart PhD

 

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